In This League, the Yankees are the Runts

Staten Island’s Yankees have a significant baseball tradition to tap into as well, considering that its parent club has won 26 world championships. The Baby Bombers will benefit from that tradition on July 8, when Old Timers’ Day will be held at Richmond Bank Park.

“That’s going to be pretty special,” Ms. Rogers said. “Any of our success will come from the affiliation with the New York Yankees. That’s what they want on Staten Island.”

The team is also experimenting with food giveaways, selling five-packs of tickets for $75, which includes an all-you-can-eat buffet. As of Opening Day, two of the four five-pack plans had sold out, according to the Staten Island Website.

But the club still has its share of goodwill work to complete. The city’s lawsuit, which accused the team of, among other things, reporting falsely deflated attendance numbers in order to avoid paying the city rent (rent kicked in at $100,000 when the team drew at least 125,000 fans), was settled this week when the team agreed to pay $1,427,899 to the city.

The Yankees, according to an audit by City Comptroller William H. Thompson, owed the money for reimbursement of electricity use, signage revenue, sinking fund capital contributions and previous audit assessments. The report also noted that the team did not owe additional funds over game attendance, squashing hopes that merely better-reported figures would raise the team’s annual turnout.

Meanwhile, some of the borough’s decision-makers have been discouraged in the team’s ability to foster economic prosperity in the area.

''The Staten Island Yankees have been a bit of a disappointment in terms of economic impact,'' Michael E. McMahon, a Democratic City Councilman from Staten Island, told the New York Times at the time of the team’s sale. ''The great investment that the city made in that project has not had the return in dollars or community connection.'' He went on to add that he hoped with “a more professional management team” that the Yankees could approach the success of the Cyclones.

Mr. McMahon said in a phone interview Friday that he’d seen some good signs from the new management, but that overall the franchise had a long way to go.

“I’m pleased that the new management team appears to be giving it the effort of generating an energy and a business climate that we all wanted,” he said. “They’re doing a lot more advertising, offering a lot more promotional packages, and reaching out to large segments of the population.”

But he noted that despite the opener’s sellout, “there were 1,000, 1,500 empty seats at the game.”

The Councilman suggested that the team needed to do a better job connecting with the less affluent citizens of the borough.

“It was one of the failings of the old management, and the new group doesn’t seem to have solved the problem, is that they’re not connecting with all levels of economic strata,” he said. “The Cyclones are very energetic in trying to give tickets out to socio-economically disadvantaged children, and connect with people who cannot necessarily afford the box seats. I don’t see that the new group is doing that.

“There’s no question that I have an affinity for the Yankees. They’re from Staten Island, I support them, want them to succeed. But they need to embrace charitable undertakings more than I have seen them do so far.”